At the highest level of sports, they say the most important five inches is the five inches between your two ears and it is certainly an axiom that selector Brian Breen seems to believe as he states quite boldly that “This is a new team but this team have no baggage with them, they have no fear. They haven’t lost a championship game yet, they don’t know how to lose.”
By John Connolly
The similarities of this current Leitrim team meeting their Roscommon neighbours three years in a row with the sequence of games in the early 90s, which culminated in the Connacht title in 1994, naturally leads questions for Breen, a member of that exceptional Leitrim team, of the similarities with the past.
Yet the Leitrim selector is quick to dismiss any comparisions with 2010, let alone 1994!
“This isn’t a history lesson, I don’t want to be referring back to 94,” said Brian, “This is a new team but this team have no baggage with them, they have no fear. They haven’t lost a championship game yet, they don’t know how to lose. I’ve played on teams with club and county that you can’t get a win with.
“I often played on club teams in the 80s where we didn’t deserve to win but we did because we knew how to win. This crowd are slowly gathering to that way.”
And you get the sense from Breen that the final step is as much mental as physical - “I don’t know what the final moment was in ‘92, ‘93 mark but it wasn’t in 1994 that we won the championship, it was in 1991. It was around that mark that we decided this was it.
“It took us three years to get there and who is to say that it won’t take this team that long this time and we’ll take it when it comes. But it came as no shock to us in 1994 that we won.”
And ignoring history and forging your identity is a message Brian is eager to get across - “Somebody told me that we’ve never beaten Roscommon in Pairc Sean but all the better, so what - there is always a first time! Sure people said we would never beat Sligo, we were five to one but so what.
“Leitrim thrive on being underdogs, God help us if one day we were favourites. That’s our aim to fix that stat. Some said it is the third time in the row they’ve beaten us, so what.
“This is new team, a brand new team. They haven’t lost in Carrick, they haven’t lost in the championship, that is the way I look at it and the glory of it is the unknown, of what they are capable of doing. We know what they are capable of doing, whether they do or not is up to them.”